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Cabrera puts Winter League Plans on Hold


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Cabrera delays Winter League plans

All-Star's grandmother passes away, will decide when to play

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

 

MIAMI -- Since being called up to the big leagues in 2003, Miguel Cabrera has continued to spend part of his offseason playing Winter League ball in his native Venezuela.

 

The Marlins' three-time All-Star was scheduled to join the Aragua Tigers on Wednesday. However, those plans changed when Berta Torres, Cabrera's grandmother on his mother's side, passed away on Wednesday.

 

Cabrera, who is from Maracay, Venezuela, is now expected to begin playing for the Tigers either on Friday or Tuesday. The Venezuela Winter League will be shut down a few days for Christmas.

 

Granted permission by the Marlins to play winter ball, Cabrera regularly spends at least part of his offseason competing in his native country. The third baseman was on Venezuela's World Baseball Classic club in 2006.

 

Already established as one of the top hitters in the Major Leagues, Cabrera set a Marlins record by hitting .339 in 2006, which was second to the Pirates' Freddy Sanchez (.344) in the National League batting race.

 

The 23-year-old Cabrera is eligible for arbitration next season, and after making $472,000 in 2006, he is in line to earn about $5.5 million for the upcoming year.

 

Brought up at age 20 from Double-A in June 2003, Cabrera emerged as a force in the postseason, and he batted cleanup in the World Series.

 

Cabrera will become eligible for free agency after the 2009 season.

 

The power-hitting third baseman typically plays about 10 games toward the end of the Venezuela Winter League season, and then in January, he participates in the playoffs.

 

The Winter League regular season ends on Dec. 30, and the playoffs begin on Jan. 3. Cabrera usually ends up playing 15-20 games, which gives him a tuneup before he heads to the start of Spring Training.

 

Marlins pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training on Feb. 17 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

 

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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